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There has been extensive research
around the methods which are used to manage classrooms in schools. Upon
investigating the research, it concludes that student progress is greater upon
classroom management being accounted for over a course of lessons. The initial thought
that springs to mind when thinking of classroom management is disciplining
behaviour, and the method behind this is something that has drastically changed
over time. We don’t have to go that far back to identify the difference within
the approach to discipline in schools. The custom of corporal punishment in
schools in UK was legal until as recent as 1986. However, of course times have
changed and the way in which we perceive discipline has now changed.

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However, we still have the issue of
discipline in schools. Rather than focusing on discipline as an instrument by
which those in education pursue to prevent students from misbehaviour, I will examine
the ways in which discipline can be used to actively inspire positive
behaviour. As well as this, I will investigate the effects academic engagement has
on student behaviour. The difference here, is that proactively getting students
to show demonstrate positive behaviour and to enthuse them into learning are essentially
different from traditional forms of discipline. They ultimately encourage
positive behaviour not deterring misbehaviour.

The aim of this report is to investigate whether classroom
management is conducive to student engagement. Furthermore, this report will
also investigate whether this practice is reflective of the related government
and school policies.

In the following section,
literature based on student engagement will be reviewed, particularly at
influences and suggested practices which can affect engagement. The Government
and School policies will also be investigated and then compared with the
Literature Review. Data gathered from observations, school resources and
interviews with fellow teachers and students will also be examined based on the
topic of this research later on.

 

School
Context

This study was conducted at
School A, a free school in the heart of East London. The vast majority of
students are from a wide range of ethnic minority groups and the borough the
borough the school resides in has one of the highest crime rates in London.

School A is a mixed gender school of only around 250
students aged between 11 and 16. It was rated as ‘Requires Improvement’ by
Ofsted in the 2016/17 academic year, however as stated by the management ‘Establishing a free school is a long-term project which always has some
early challenges involved’ this is a school that is only six years old with
last year’s Year 11’s being the first year group to sit GCSE’s and obtained the
best results in the borough.  In response to Ofsted’s report the
Headteacher states “I am committed to making School
A an outstanding school and this is acknowledged in the report which states
that ‘Leaders have put in place systems that are now beginning to secure
improvements in line with their plans for the school’s development”. 
(School A, 2016).

In 2017, the percentage of students achieving Grade 4 and above in English and Maths was 73%, while 62%
achieved Grade 5 and above. The school boasts a truly personalised
curriculum to enable enhanced learning whilst also claiming to be at the heart
of technology where students are providedaccess to the use of chromebooks
within some lessons.

The main admission criteria for the school are as follows:

1. Children who are currently or have previously been in the
care of a local authority or are provided with accommodation by the authority
(looked-after children*)

2. Children who live within the South Wapping Priority
Admissions Zone** and have a sibling*** already admitted to the school and in
attendance at the same time.

3. Other children who have a sibling*** already admitted to
the school and in attendance at the same time.

4. Children who live within the South Wapping Priority
Admissions Zone** In the event that there are more applications under this
criteria than places remaining, the Governors will prioritise between these
children by reference to distance****.

5. Other children by reference to distance****

 

Literature
Review

Classroom management is one of the most misconstrued words
in Education to date, which people often just misinterpret as discipline.
However, with this interpretation in mind, discipline tends to be the focus
rather than the learning that needs to go on. Disciplining is a form of
behaviour management. Research shows that effective teachers manage a
classroom, not discipline it.

According to Evertson and Harris (1999), “the meaning of the
term classroom management has changed from describing discipline practices and behavioural
interventions to serving as a more holistic descriptor of teachers’ actions in
orchestrating supportive learning environments and building community” (p. 60).
Also, Larrivee (2005) noted that “classroom management is a critical ingredient
in the three-way mix of effective teaching strategies, which includes
meaningful content, powerful teaching strategies, and an organizational
structure to support productive learning” (p. vi). Echoing Evertson and Harris,
Brophy (1999) also approved when he specified that “the most successful
teachers approach management as a process of establishing and maintaining
effective learning environments” (p. 44).

Classroom management refers to all the things that a teacher
does to organise students, space, time, and materials so that student learning
can take place. It has its own plan- a set of rules that structure the
classroom so the pupils know what they need to do, how to do it and when to do
it. Effective teachers employ these methods “for establishing rules and
procedures, organizing groups, monitoring and pacing classroom events, and
reacting to misbehavior” (Borko & Putnam, 1995, p. 41), and, if done
properly and consistently, it “looks seamless, even invisible” (Randolph &
Evertson, 1995, p. 17). In spite of an impression that classroom management is
a complex set of skills that comprises of much more than just influencing and governing
student behaviour, there is still a general impression that classroom
management is largely about ‘discipline.’

Educational factors affecting engagement

There are several factors which affect students’ engagement
in the educational environment. There are three broad factors which should be
considered: school factors, the classroom context and the needs of the
individual.

2.5.1.

School Factors

The majority of the research regarding the relationship
between school factors and engagement suggests that there is a link between
behavioural engagement and school factors. While there is a potential link
between school factors and emotional and cognitive engagement, there is limited
research which supports this. Some of the factors which influence engagement
are having fair and flexible school rules, a smaller teacher-student ratio,
insisting on high academic standards from students and varied tasks to enrich
learning.

Alienation is another key factor which affects student
engagement. Newmann (1981) suggested that by reducing student alienation in
schools, it would be possible to increase engagement. He outlined some of the
following characteristics as being ways to do this: Page | 11 “voluntary
choice, clear and consistent goals, small size… opportunities for staff and
students to be involved in cooperative endeavours,” (Fredricks et al., 2004:
73).

2.5.2.

Classroom Context

Some of the factors within the classroom which can affect
engagement are teacher support, peers, classroom structure, autonomy support
and task characteristics. There has been research to show that each of these
factors can impact a student’s behavioural, emotional and/or cognitive
engagement.

Teacher support is one of the factors which has been shown
to impact all three types of engagement; this is because their support can be
academic and/or personal. There has been research which suggests that the
quality of a teacher’s relationship with their students is associated with
their level of behavioural engagement. Fredricks et al. (2004) go as far as to
say, “Where teachers created respectful and socially supportive environments…
students were more strategic about learning and had higher behavioral
engagement,” (Fredricks et al., 2004: 75). Connell and Wellborn (1991) also
found a correlation between teacher support and emotional engagement.

The characteristics of a task have also been shown to
influence engagement. In particular, research has shown a link between
achievement and behavioural engagement. Newmann et al. (1992) suggest that
tasks which “provide extrinsic rewards, cultivate intrinsic interests, permit a
sense of student ownership, reflect aspects of work beyond school, and involve
some fun” (Newmann et al., 1992: 28) will allow for a high level of engagement.

 

2.6. Teaching practices and engagement

There has been research into teaching practices which can
promote engagement. One such piece of research is by Skilling (2014) who looked
in particular at how practices can effect engagement in mathematics. While the
subject-specific nature of her suggested practices could be considered a limitation
in the context of this report, this does not mean that the practices detailed
below are not applicable to other subjects.

Teacher practices which Skilling (2014) suggests could
increase student engagement are:

·
placing an emphasis on the relevance and future value of the subject;

·
emphasising the applications of the subject;

·
making real world connections between the content being taught and the real
world;

 · encouraging student
questioning and independent investigations;

·
acknowledging students’ feelings of frustration;

·
encouraging students’ interests and desires;

·
developing interpersonal relationships with students;

·
being sensitive to students’ feelings, in order to build trust.

Skilling
(2014)

 

An additional part of Skilling’s article was the inclusions
of teaching practices that she had found to cause disengagement. The following
is a list of such practices:

·
expressing low expectations of students;

·
viewing engagement as separate to teaching the required content;

· being
uncertain about how to engage students in the learning;

·
controlling teaching styles.

Skilling
(2014)

 

When analysing my data, I would be interested if the
findings show if the above practices are currently used by teachers.